At a sodden Sutton, Camden once again contrived to lose a match that was there for the taking, failing to make the most of good starts with both bat and ball. As the heavens opened on the morning of the match, it was easy to see another cancellation to add to the previous week’s fixture at a less than Dry Drayton. It was a surprise, then, to find the two-tiered fenland ground in a playable condition. So much so, in fact, that captain Redders had no hesitation in deciding to bat first. To be fair, fielding would have been tricky with eight men. To continue being fair, if not chronological, it was to prove tricky enough with ten.
A move to the top of the order didn’t change much for Redders: another run-a-ball 30-odd that surprised nobody receiving the occasional updates on WhatsApp. It might have been one cameo too many for the gods, however, if the steady drizzle that fell for the second half of the innings was anything to go by. With the scoreboard reading 100-1 at the halfway stage, Camden would have been eyeing up considerably more than the 176-4 they ended up with. News of the game eventually reached plague haven New Zealand, where former Camden legend Duncan Gibson was moved to remind his erstwhile teammates that “it’s 40 overs … go for it …” Those closer to the action could say that Jon Adler’s self-inflicted run-out when well set on 44 didn’t help, and nor did the rain – but credit must go to the Sutton spinners for checking the run rate. Runs came from Will Sutton, his heroic lack of fitness put to the test in a single-heavy 48 not out, ably supported by ex-former-ex-all-rounder Steve Robinson (24) and Nutty (10).
Kelsall, bouncing back from his Lode letdown with a tremendous new ball spell of 8-2-17-1, along with budding percussionist Vish had Sutton stuttering at 20-2 from the first ten overs. When Redders burgled the wicket of his opposite number – the second of two catches for the bucket- handed Big Aussie Unit – the visitors were confident of wrapping up victory. The consensus at drinks was that Fahim’s floundering – failing to find his feet never mind the ball, as a drive lobbed up short of mid-off – would be of little consequence as the beneficiary looked an unlikely match-winner.
As it was, the sun came out, runs began to flow, and Camden began to rue the absence of an eleventh man in the field. That it was Karan Derekar who had gone down sick on the morning of the game was particularly telling. Eight overs from Madingley’s favourite off-spinner would almost certainly have made the difference. Instead, from 63-3 after 21 overs, the hosts cruised to a five-wicket win in the 37th over, benefitting along the way from some butter-fingered fielding.
Still, on FA Cup Final day, wildlife supremo Martin Baker’s tumble in the field had those of a certain age recalling Keith Houchen’s spectacular diving header in Coventry City’s win in 1987, while Kelsall’s fingertip effort brought to mind Dave Beasant’s penalty save for Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang a year later. And Leicester beat Chelsea, so Camden superfan Nick Austin could take some comfort from the day’s sporting fare.
Meanwhile, fellow Leicestershire veteran, Kent’s Darren Stevens, put his evergreen performances down to an unlikely inspiration: “If those Camden boys are still playing, why shouldn’t I?”
Man of the Match: Jonathon Adler
Score Card: https://camden.play-cricket.com/website/results/4160638
Will Sutton (May 24, 2021)